Accolades

Graham Hatfull

Graham Hatfull elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Graham Hatfull, professor of Biotechnology in the Department of Biological Sciences in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, has been elected a 2020 member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Hatfull’s work with SEA-PHAGES, a national program that teaches undergraduates students to discover bacteriophages, led to the creation of a phage cocktail that was used to fight an antibiotic resistant infection in a 15-year old lung transplant patient.

Hatfull joins a class of 276 new members that includes immunologist Yasmine Belkaid, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. and singer Joan Baez.

“This is a truly wonderful honor, recognizing the tremendous efforts of the researchers in my lab and our collaborators over many years,” said Hatfull. “It is humbling to join an academy with such wonderful and distinguished artists and scientists.”

AAAS was founded in 1780 and its projects and publications generate ideas and offer recommendations to advance the public good in the arts, citizenship, education, energy, government, the humanities, international relations, science and more. In addition to more than a dozen current Pitt faculty members, AAAS membership includes Benjamin Franklin, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Robert Frost and Martin Luther King Jr.

— Pittwire

Jessica Ghilani

Jessica Ghilani selected for Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Award

Jessica Ghilani, associate professor of communication at Pitt–Greensburg, was selected by the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum as the 2020 Aviation Space Writers Foundation Award Winner.

The award is offered in even numbered years and carries with it a $5,000 grant to support research on aerospace topics. Additional details are available on the website

Ghilani's project, "Advertising Military Innovation: Technological Visualizations in American Military Recruitment," will result in a book chapter to be included a manuscript she is writing. She intends to use the funds to conduct research at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center annex of the National Air and Space Museum.

Ted Fritz in a black suit and white collared shirt

Fritz named vice chancellor for Public Safety and Emergency Management

Ted P. Fritz has been promoted to vice chancellor for public safety and emergency management at the University of Pittsburgh.

In this role within the Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management, Fritz is responsible for all health and safety-related oversight for the 40,000-member University community across five Pitt campuses and multiple off-campus locations.

In 2013, Fritz became Pitt’s first associate vice chancellor for public safety and emergency management, appointed to bring together Pitt Police, Environmental Health and Safety, Emergency Management and Integrated Security under one unified business unit.

Fritz joined the University in 1998 as associate general counsel. In that capacity, he represented University officials in litigation and was Pitt’s primary legal advisor for constitutional, law enforcement, student affairs, cyber, copyright and international issues.

A U.S. Army veteran, Fritz is a magna cum laude distinguished military graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology and pre-law. He earned his juris doctor degree cum laude at Stetson University College of Law.

Joshua Matilla in a light blue dress shirt

Joshua Matilla awarded Public Policy Fellowship

Joshua Matilla was recently selected for the 2020-2021 class of Public Policy Fellows at the American Association of Immunologists. Matilla is assistant professor of infectious diseases and microbiology at the Graduate School of Public Health.

The fellowship program provides early-career researchers, who are within 15 years of receiving their terminal degree and committed to a career in biomedical research, with the opportunity to learn about and participate in the public policy and legislative activities of the association. Up to 10 fellows are selected to participate annually. Fellows serve from May 1 of their selection year to April 30 of the following year.

Jason Shoemaker in a gray suit with a multicolored tie

Engineer Jason Shoemaker receives NSF award for virtual infection modeling

Jason Shoemaker, assistant professor of chemical engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering, has received an NSF CAREER Award for $547,000 for his work modeling the immune system response to viral lung infections.

The predictive computational model will show how the human body will react to a viral lung infection and will flag biomarkers present for people whose immune systems react with excessive inflammation, which is what makes these infections so dangerous. Though it’s modeled on the influenza virus, once completed, it will be applicable to other viral lung infections, like COVID-19.

Ivet Bahar

Computational Biology’s Bahar elected to National Academy of Sciences

Ivet Bahar, professor and the founding of the Department of Computational and Systems Biology, in the Pitt School of Medicine, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

Bahar was selected “in honor of outstanding contributions to computational biology.” She is co-founder of the Ph.D. program in Computational Biology, jointly offered by Pitt and Carnegie Mellon University. She is a pioneer in structural and computational biology, having developed widely used elastic network models for protein dynamics. 

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit society of distinguished scholars established in 1863, which aims to provide independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology. This year’s election of 120 members and 26 international members brings the total number of active academy members to 2,403. 

Read more about Bahar here.

Sara Kuebbing in a black top

Sara Kuebbing named Ecological Society of America early career fellow

Sara Kuebbing, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Science in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, has been named a 2020 early career fellow of the Ecological Society of America. Kuebbing was chosen for her research on the impacts of invasive plant species on terrestrial plant communities and ecosystems and her efforts to apply research to management of invaded systems. The five-year program will support fellows’ competitiveness and advancement to leadership positions.

Sarah Grafton to chair Restorative Dentistry

Sarah E. Grafton has been named chair of Restorative Dentistry and Comprehensive Care at the Pitt School of Dental Medicine.

Grafton completed her doctoral degree in Dental Medicine at Pitt in 2000 and a post-graduate general practice residency at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Pittsburgh. Since 2014, she has been an assistant professor at the University and has most recently served as vice chair for clinical efficiency within the Department of Restorative Dentistry and Comprehensive Care.

Her scholarly interests include behavioral health and community-based dentistry, dental treatment for those with substance abuse disorders, and clinical efficiency with quality assurance in dental education.

Alicia Koontz in a green shirt

Alicia Koontz inducted into American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering

University of Pittsburgh researcher Alicia Koontz has been inducted into the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.

Koontz is an associate professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology, part of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, and associate director for research at the Human Engineering Research Laboratories.

Election to the institute’s College of Fellows is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to a medical and biological engineer. The College of Fellows is comprised of the top 2% of medical and biological engineers. College membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to engineering and medicine research, practice or education and to "the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of medical and biological engineering, or developing and implementing innovative approaches to bioengineering education." 

A sign for the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford

Joshua Groffman selected for Bradford campus teaching award

Joshua Groffman, assistant professor of music, will receive the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford’s Chairs’ Faculty Teaching Award. Groffman is the director of Pitt-Bradford’s music programs.

Jeff Guterman, associate professor of broadcast communications and chair of the campus's Division of Communication and the Arts, cited Groffman’s creation of a music minor and pep band in 2018 as well as positive teaching reviews and making a point of connecting visiting musicians directly with students in a learning environment.

Groffman is also a prolific composer and active performer. Several performances planned for spring and summer have been postponed, most notably a June pre-premiere workshop of a new opera, “Halcyon.” Groffman now expects that to take place in 2021.

The Cathedral of Learning

Human Resources recognized nationally for COVID-19 resources for supervisors

The Office of Human Resources has been nationally recognized for its guidance in helping supervisors during the COVID-19 crisis.

EAB, a higher education firm, cited Pitt Human Resources in its April 13 article “3 ways to engage staff with excess capacity during coronavirus.”

The article highlights a new framework to help supervisors keep employees engaged and productive during the pandemic. The framework offers tools and tips for supervisors on different ways they can shift their thinking “from challenge mode to opportunity mode,” as their staff’s normal responsibilities and routines may have changed due to the pandemic. The tips are:

  • Think AHEAD: Use this time for long-term, strategic planning.

  • Think BACK: Examine data on previous projects.

  • Think DEEP: Analyze systems currently in place.

  • Think ACROSS: Brainstorm ways to help others in their work.

  • Think GROWTH: Focus on self and team development.

  • Think WELL-BEING: Prioritize physical and mental health.

  • Think NOW: Consider which tasks are critical to tackling immediately.

Visit the Human Resources website for more guidance, and additional COVID-19 resources for faculty and staff.

A University of Pittsburgh-Bradford Sign

Bradford campus named to Transfer Honor Roll

Pitt–Bradford has been named to Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society's Transfer Honor Roll in recognition of the dynamic pathways it has created to support transfer students.

Phi Theta Kappa is the honor society for students at two-year colleges and universities. It recognizes four-year colleges and universities deemed most friendly to transfer students. This is the first year that Pitt-Bradford has been recognized.

The Bradford campus was one of only two public universities in Pennsylvania that were recognized.

Pitt–Bradford provides an extensive database of courses at other universities for students to identify potential transfer credit. 

Bharath Chandrasekaran in a blue collared shirt

Bharath Chandrasekaran appointed to National Institutes of Health study section

Bharath Chandrasekaran, a communication science and disorders associate professor and vice chair of research in Pitt’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, has been appointed to a four-year term to serve as a charter member of the Language and Communication Study Section, beginning July 1, 2020, and ending June 30, 2024. The section is part of the Center for Scientific Review of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 

Members of NIH study sections are selected on the basis of their demonstrated competence and achievement in their scientific discipline as evidenced by the quality of research accomplishments, publications in scientific journals, and other significant scientific activities, achievements and honors. 

Chandrasekaran’s research examines the neurobiological computations that underlie human communication and learning.

A collection of bottles of hand sanitizer

Chemistry Department making hand sanitizer for community nonprofits

Members of the Department of Chemistry in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences are using their spare time and the department’s extra resources to make hand sanitizer and donate it to local community groups.

Department Chair Sunil Saxena and graduate student Joshua Casto, along with Dietrich School director of shared research support services Peter Chambers, used compounds left in the department to create batches of hand sanitizer that were distributed to the Light of Life Mission in Pittsburgh’s North Side, the Community Engagement Association in Homewood and Meals on Wheels in the Hill District. Saxena said the effort will continue as long as there is a community need.

Chandralekha Singh

Chandralekha Singh named president of American Association of Physics Teachers

Chandralekha Singh, a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, who is founding director of the Discipline-based Science Education Research Center, has been appointed as the 2020 president of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT).

Singh, who had previously served as vice president of the AAPT board of directors, will work to connect physics educators at all education levels and expand professional development activities in ways that encourage inclusion and equity. “These activities can help physics instructors improve students’ sense of belonging and create a low anxiety learning environment in which all students can contribute to physics related discussions without fear of being wrong,” she said.

Yona Harvey

Yona Harvey wins fellowship for poetry

Yona Harvey, faculty member in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences’ Department of English, has been awarded a fellowship from the George A. and Eiiza Gardner Howard Foundation at Brown University for the 2020-21 academic year.

The foundation awards a limited amount of fellowships annually “for independent projects in selected fields, targeting its support specifically to early mid-career individuals, those who have achieved recognition for one major project.” Harvey has won a fellowship in the poetry category.

An assistant professor in the Writing Program, Harvey is the author of the poetry collection “Hemming the Water,” winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award from Claremont Graduate University. Her second poetry collection, “You Don’t Have to Go to Mars for Love,” is set to be released later this year.

A student walking on a sidewalk

Carbon commitment committee named

A Carbon Commitment Committee has been established in support of the Pitt’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2037.

Director of Sustainability Aurora Sharrard will chair this subcommittee of the Chancellor’s Advisory Council on Sustainability.  

Carbon Commitment Committee members are:

  • Jennifer Barnes, supplier diversity and sustainability coordinator, Purchasing

  • Scott Bernotas, associate vice chancellor, Facilities Management

  • Melissa Bilec, deputy director, Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation and Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

  • Brendan Fouracre, Executive Associate Athletic Director for Capital Planning and Projects and Facility and Event Operations, Athletics

  • Max Harleman, PhD candidate, Graduate School of Public & International Affairs

  • Mike Holland, Vice Chancellor for Science Policy & Research Strategies, Research

  • Katrina Kelly, assistant research professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering

  • Mary Beth McGrew, associate vice chancellor, Planning, Design and Real Estate

  • Ellen Oordt, undergraduate student, Ecology & Evolution '22

  • Rebecca Roadman, senior HR project manager, Human Resources

Chancellor Patrick Gallagher announced the accelerated carbon neutrality goal, timed to align with Pitt’s 250th anniversary in 2037, in conjunction with the signing of the Second Nature Climate Leadership Statement and Carbon Commitment. The University is on a trajectory to meet the 2018 Pitt Sustainability Plan goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions and energy use 50 percent by 2030 (from a 2008 baseline), while producing or procuring at least 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

Pitt-Bradford monument sign

Pitt-Bradford receives national advertising awards

The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford has received four awards in the 2019 Collegiate Advertising Awards program, which recognizes U.S. colleges and universities for excellence in communications, marketing, advertising and promotions.

Pitt-Bradford received two awards for the materials its admissions counselors use to recruit new students. It received a Gold Award in the Recruitment Series category for a series of brochures, postcards, posters and flyers; and a Silver Award in the Direct-Mail category for a postcard sent to prospective students who originally applied to the University of Pittsburgh and were accepted at Pitt-Bradford.

Pitt-Bradford received another Silver Award in the Brochure-Multiple Pages category for a case statement of support that is being used to raise funds for a new STEM building, which will house two new engineering technology programs—mechanical engineering technology and energy engineering technology—and two existing programs, computer information systems and technology and petroleum technology.

The third Silver Award was in the Newspaper Ad-Series category for print ads published in regional newspapers last spring that featured Pitt-Bradford students and graduates, including Katie Treat, a biology major from Cyclone, Pa, and Kacie Appleby, a criminal justice major from Port Allegany, Pa.

A panther statue fountain

Water Collaboratory publishes paper on regional flooding

The Pittsburgh Collaboratory for Water Research, Education, and Outreach, which was founded in January 2018 by faculty out of the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Geology and Environmental Science with support from the Heinz Endowments, has released the white paper report “Flooding in Southwestern Pennsylvania: Knowledge Gaps and Approaches.”

The paper’s recommendations are based on a meeting of regional stakeholders that included representatives from the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority and the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, and over 50 participants from NGOs and local residents. Its recommendations include targeted assessments of urban watersheds to understand the true costs of flooding, the creation of a regional- or multi-municipality stormwater utility district and increased observation of tributaries. The paper is the third of a series designed to assess knowledge gaps related to regional water resources.

Emily Murphy in a blue collared shirt and dark jacket

Emily Murphy named distinguished fellow of American Academy of Physician Assistants

Emily Murphy, assistant professor of physician assistant studies in Pitt’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, has been recognized as a distinguished fellow of the American Academy of Physician Assistants. 

This honor is bestowed in recognition of exceptional leadership, contributions to the physician assistant profession and community service.

Murphy is also vice chair for academic and administrative affairs and director of the physician assistant studies program. Her clinical background is in neurosurgery, interventional radiology and pulmonology. Murphy currently holds a clinical appointment in addiction medicine with a private physician group.